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What is an allocation?

This content applies to England

An explanation of local authority allocation schemes and exceptions to the rules governing the allocation of social housing.

Definition

An allocation is defined as:

  • selecting a person to be a secure, flexible or introductory tenant for accommodation held by a local authority[1]
  • nominating a person to be a secure, flexible or introductory tenant of another local authority[2]
  • nominating a person to be an assured or assured shorthold tenant of a housing association or other private registered provider of social housing (PRPSH).[3] This includes tenancies let at an 'affordable rent'. For the many local authorities that no longer have their own housing stock a nomination to a PRSPSH will be the principal means of allocating accommodation
  • transferring an existing local authority or PRPSH tenant, to accommodation held by the local authority, or by a different housing authority - nb this only applies to an existing tenant who is in one of the categories of person to be given reasonable preference under the allocation scheme.[4]

Exceptions

In some situations the allocation rules will not apply. If this is the case, an authority is free to allocate properties at its discretion. The transfer of existing tenants can be dealt with outside the allocation scheme, save where a tenant is in one of the categories of person to be given a reasonable preference. See Transfers, exchanges and nominations for details.

In addition, a tenancy acquired in one of the following ways will not be an allocation:[5]

  • where a person succeeds to the tenancy on the death of the secure, flexible or introductory tenant (see the section on succession for secure and flexible tenancies)
  • where a person is assigned the tenancy or the tenancy is transferred in a mutual exchange (see the page Secure and flexible tenants)
  • where a secure, flexible or introductory tenant assigns the tenancy to someone who would be qualified to succeed on death (see the page Rules for different tenancy types)
  • where a property adjustment order is made in matrimonial proceedings or under the Children Act 1989 (see the page on Relationship breakdown law)
  • where an introductory tenant is granted a secure or flexible tenancy following the end of their introductory tenancy (see the section on Introductory tenancies)
  • where an authority provides suitable alternative accommodation under section 39 of the Land Compensation Act 1973 (see the section on Problems during repairs)[6]
  • where an authority grants a secure tenancy to a former owner-occupier or tenant of a defective dwelling that the authority has repurchased (see the section on problems during repair)[7]
  • where a tenancy is offered to a family intervention tenant.[8]

'Non-statutory succession'

Social landlords may offer a discretionary 'non-statutory succession' to household members and/or carers who have lived with a deceased tenant for a period of time (usually 12 months) before the death occurred. Although expressed as a succession right, any grant of a new tenancy by a local authority under such a policy will in fact be an allocation, and must comply with the local authority's allocations policy. See the page Secure and flexible tenancies in the succession section for more information.

Distinction between allocation and letting

It should be noted that there is a distinction between a local authority's duty to allocate accommodation in accordance with its allocation scheme[9] and its power to dispose of accommodation by the grant of a secure tenancy.[10] Where a local authority employee empowered to make allocations had let vacant properties to applicants who did not have priority under the authority's allocation scheme, and there was no evidence of any wrongdoing by the tenants, the court held that the secure tenancies granted were lawful.[11]

Find details of local authorities on Gov.uk.

Wales

The information on this page applies only to England. Go to Shelter Cymru for information relating to Wales.

[1] s.159(2)(a) Housing Act 1996, as amended by the Homelessness Act 2002; see also s.154 Localism Act 2011.

[2] s.159(2)(b) Housing Act 1996, as amended by Homelessness Act 2002; see also s.154 Localism Act 2011.

[3] s.159(2)(c) Housing Act 1996, as amended by Homelessness Act 2002.

[4] s.159(4A) and (4B) Housing Act 1996, as inserted by s.145 Localism Act 2011; The Localism Act 2011 (Commencement No. 6 and Transitional, Savings and Transitory Provisions) Order 2012 SI 2012/1463 (C.56)

[5] s.161 Housing Act 1996, as amended by Homelessness Act 2002.

[6] reg 3 Allocation of Housing (England) Regulations 2000 SI 2000/70.

[7] reg 3 Allocation of Housing (England) Regulations 2000 SI 2000/702.

[8] Allocation of Housing (England)(Amendment)(Family Intervention Tenancies) Regulations 2008 SI 2008/3015.

[9] under Part 6 Housing Act 1996.

[10] under s.32 Housing Act 1985.

[11] Birmingham CC v Qasim [2009] EWCA Civ 1080.

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